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Thursday Thunderbolts: 56th FG Jugs

Thursday Thunderbolts: 56th FG Jugs

By Stan Piet As the long-lived Thunderbolt group in the ETO, the 56th FG certainly sported some of the most varied camouflage plus squadron and individual markings in England. Upon arrival at Kings Cliffe in January 1943, its first combat-ready P-47C models bore a factory-standard olive drab over neutral gray livery. As the Thunderbolt was […]
Lee Lauderback Sets a Record

Lee Lauderback Sets a Record

“I think the thing I like most about my time with the Mustang has been the people I’ve met through it.” The speaker is Lee Lauderback, founder/owner of Stallion 51, the longtime Mustang check-out haven in Kissimmee, Florida. He recently had a good week in which he logged his 10,000th hour in the P-51D and […]

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Warbirds – A Personal  History

Warbirds – A Personal History

My own interest in warbirds goes back to the BT-13 my father bought and parked in front of his store to draw in customers; that was when I was six years old. Other kids had jungle gyms to climb on—I had a BT-13, and surplus airplanes were everywhere. On our semimonthly trip to visit my […]
America’s Aerial Warriors Today

America’s Aerial Warriors Today

Life begins at 40 or 50, or … It’s a sure fact of life that we all reach a point where we can’t begin to guess how long ago something in our lives happened. Did such and such happen five years ago? Or was it 10? We get to the point where we can’t even […]

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Messerschmitt Bf 109E “Emil”

Messerschmitt Bf 109E “Emil”

Apart from its combat record, the Bf 109 remains a historic aircraft for sheer numbers produced. More than seven decades after WWII, only the Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik exceeds the Messerschmitt’s total of 34,000 produced, even under the pressure of continual Allied bombing. Nothing else comes close. Frequently, the Soviet Yakovlev fighter series is compared to […]

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Post D-Day Fighter Conference

Post D-Day Fighter Conference

What we have here is an executive retreat held in Bottisham, Cambridgeshire,  home of the 361st FG, August 1944. It is a get-together of all fighter group COs in the 8th Air Force and represents a who’s who of Post D-Day fighter aviation. Front to back: 20th FG (Col. Harold Rau’s Gentle Annie), 352nd FG […]
D-Day: Planning the  Aerial  Assault

D-Day: Planning the Aerial Assault

Today the numbers involved in Operation Overlord are unthinkable: 6,000 bombers, more than 5,000 fighters, some 1,600 transport aircraft, and 2,500 gliders. All crammed into scores of airfields throughout Britain, but mainly in southern England. All were serviced, armed, and assigned aircrews, eager to take off on the day called “D.” That spring, the American […]

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A Pilot’s View of D-Day

A Pilot’s View of D-Day

In his memoir, Lt. Col. Richard E. Turner recalled D-Day for the Ninth Air Force’s 354th Fighter Group at Maidstone, Kent. He described the “Pioneer Mustangs’” rare D-Day missions: night escort of troop carrier aircraft and gliders. Since the 25th of May, the group had been informed that it was on a six-hour alert status, […]
P-47 Thunderbolt on D-Day

P-47 Thunderbolt on D-Day

P-47D UN-V, named “Pat,” from the famed 56th FG, 63rd FS, prepares for another fighter sweep in support of the invasion.  The second mount of Capt. Gordon S. Stevens, it survived until early September, being lost with Capt. Roy Fling at the controls. Stevens himself was lost in a “Pat” replacement on the 18th of […]
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